Flying With Faber - June 2010

Nagasaki: Not Your Typical Tourist City

By Stuart Faber

Nagaxaki City Center (Copyright JNTO)What I loved most about Nagasaki was the absence of the forces that so often are associated with an avalanche of tourists. It felt as if we were the only tourists in the city. Sightings of Americans and Europeans were few and far between. Many street and store signs are not in English. Even our hotel was bereft of American and European tourists. Nagasaki is a charming and energetic city where you can deeply immerse yourself in the local culture. The moment we set foot in town, we felt at home – a rare sensation for first-time visitors. The gleaming, ultra-modern malls are bustling with felicitous shoppers. The restaurants, many of which are family operated, serve Japan’s version of comfort cuisine. The sidewalks rumble day and night with locals dashing to and fro. The streetcars are historic in their appearance and with the cling-clang proclamations of their bells. McDonald’s are few and far between.

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Flying With Faber - May 2010

Cruisin’ Around The East China & Yellow Sea

The MS Europa at sea. (Courtesy Hapag-Lloyd Cruises)By Stuart J. Faber

Well, here I go again-writing a FWF column and showcasing a manner of transportation other than an airplane.  After a ten-day cruise around the East China and Yellow Seas on what is inarguably one of the swankiest and most impeccably operated cruise ships to sail the oceans, I couldn’t wait to hop on the computer and sing the praises of one of the most incredible and consummate travel experiences of my career. This is not journalistic hyperbole.  As a travel writer (or, critic, as some refer to us), I am obliged to, and take the obligation seriously, to write truthfully and accurately about travel facilities.  It is not unusual for me to be highly critical of a hotel or restaurant when condemnation is warranted.  More times than I can count, I have rebuked a popular restaurant or hotel, many of which are popular for reasons beyond my comprehension. I have denounced some cuisine as inedible. When deserved, I have described numerous hotels as unclean and abysmally managed.

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Flying With Faber - April 2010

The seat of McIntosh County, Darien is a coastal tidewater town about sixty miles south of Savannah. Its origins can be traced to the earliest years of colonial Georgia. The city is some of the best shrimping ground in the country. (Georgia Department of Economic Development)Georgia’s Coast–An Untouched Treasure

By Stuart J. Faber

One of the most pristine areas of the southeast lies along the Georgia coastline and extends from the southern boundary of South Carolina to the northern boundary of Florida. Unknown to many, and especially me, many famous battles between the Colonists and the British were fought along these shores, and a few Civil War skirmishes as well. Recently, I visited this area from Brunswick to the Florida state line. Just north of the Florida border is the quaint village of St. Mary. To the east of St. Mary is the breathtaking Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

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A Visit With the Blue Angels

The Blue Angels fly in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. (Sagar Pathak)By Stuart J. Faber

Everyone, including me, loves the Blue Angels.  Through the years, I have attended a number of their spectacular performances.  My enthusiasm increases with every new airshow I see. Recently, a few journalists and I were gathered around the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf where most of the Blue Angels pilots were billeted and hanging out.

While enjoying a buffet lunch of sandwiches, tapas and sweets at Knuckles Bar and Grill at the Hyatt, we were thrilled to meet up with two of the Blue Angel officers for a preflight get-together.  Marine Captain Tyson Dunkelberger is an information officer with the Blue Angels. Navy pilot Lt. Ben Walborn flies aircraft number seven and is one of the narrators and advance men for the 35 airshows the group performs each year. Ben is a 29-year-old pilot who began his flight training in a T-34 and transitioned to jets via the T-45. He completed his flight training in the F-18 Hornet, then did a tour in Japan before he joined the Blue Angels. These two friendly, yet all-business guys shared our culinary largesse while graciously answered all of our questions.

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The Spectacular New Las Vegas CityCenter

By Stuart J. Faber

The new CityCenter sparkles at night on the Las Vegas skyline. (Photo courtesy of MGM Mirage)So long as you have a spare $8.5 billion, why not build a new compound of hotels and shopping centers?  Well, that is exactly what has happened in Las Vegas. Just 10 minutes from McCarran Airport lies a 67-acre, 18 million-square-foot complex which includes a 500,000-square-foot luxury shopping mall named Crystals along with three hotels, a casino and a hefty number of restaurants. This conglomeration of six shimmering, sleek glass and steel towers is a joint venture between MGM Mirage and the folks from Dubai World.

Opened in December 2009, this complex, designed by such architectural notables as Cesar Pelli, Daniel Libeskind, David Rockwell, Sir Norman Foster, Art Gensler and Rafael Vinoly is the largest development on the Strip – well, adjacent to the Strip. The development houses a host of celebrity chef restaurants, five nightlife venues, elaborate water displays, high-roller suites and VIP gaming areas, plus a $40 million collection of art.   I attended the grand opening of CityCenter, enjoyed the fireworks display, sampled the offerings of most of the restaurants and snooped through the rooms, suites, casino and meeting space of the three hotels.

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